Like many teenage boys, it was my dream to have a fast car – one with a powerful engine that would beat other teenage drivers off the green light on Main Street. A high-powered Chevy Monza Coupe with a 305 V8 was near the top of my wish list (and within my budget); and the chance to buy a used one brought visions of squealing tires and turning heads. In fact, General Motors’ John DeLorean nicknamed it the “Italian Vega”, citing its resemblance to the Ferrari 365 GTC/4 (emphasis on looks, not necessarily performance).
My Monza, of course, needed a stereo system upgrade. I set to work, assuming my enthusiasm for the project could make up for any lack of experience. With the installation completed, the Monza was everything a teen could want – and I gave little thought to the small, red plastic piece that had slipped out from somewhere behind the dashboard. The Monza was lots of fun to drive and did, in fact, turn a few heads, or at least I imagined it did.
Eventually, a yellow light appeared on the dashboard. Because the little red plastic piece that would have identified the problem was missing, I didn’t know what the light meant. I assumed there must be something that would need attention soon – perhaps the window washer fluid was getting low. Until the car stopped. Dead in its tracks. It was out of engine oil and the engine had just burned up. It had to be towed to the junkyard and, for a minute, I felt like staying there with it.
Finding Resiliency to Overcome the Exhaustion of 2020
There have been many examples of leaders adapting brilliantly to the challenges of 2020, making necessary changes, pivoting to find new ways to survive, and facing very real threats to the ongoing viability of their organizations. HR executives and other leaders have frequently been engaged in daunting, time-consuming personal conversations with employees struggling through the pandemic. The fallout from the many cultural, medical, and political events of this year have exhausted most leaders and their employees.
Much like a Monza that is about to run out of oil, many leaders feel depleted of the energy and vitality that provide the resiliency needed to generate organizational momentum for 2021. Resilience is created when you use mental processes and behaviors to manage stress and protect yourself from its potential negative physical and mental effects. Finding ways to increase your resilience will help you recover from the challenges of 2020 and face future unknowns.
It is important to watch for indicators that your personal reserves may be running low so that you can make the adjustments necessary to avoid total burnout. Rather than run your personal engine dry, step back and evaluate how to allocate your personal resources, your time, and energy in ways that will increase current and future resiliency. As they say prior to a flight, you need to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help others.
Four Ways to Resolve Your Personal Warning Lights
It is natural to feel exhausted after the year we’ve had; however, to effectively lead your organization to a successful 2021, you will need to identify warning signs that you’re approaching burnout and take preemptive action. Here are some suggestions:
- Use the holiday break or slowdown as an opportunity for personal care. Prepare for the challenges and opportunities of 2021 by pursuing activities that will recharge your battery. This will vary significantly, depending on whether you are an introvert who needs quiet time or an extrovert who needs to be around people. Understand yourself, plan accordingly, and try to spend a little time in nature.
- Do not neglect physical signs of stress and anxiety. As boundaries between home life and work life have changed this year, the lack of separation between the two has meant simultaneously juggling many responsibilities. The Mayo Clinic lists nervousness, restlessness, tension, and trouble concentrating as warning indicators that life’s challenges may be taking a toll. It is important to address these signs of anxiety before they lead to other mental and physical conditions.
- Work on personal resiliency. Make sure you tap into social and family support systems. Chat on the phone, write a letter, or schedule a video call if COVID-19 prevents physical visits. Examine your ability to manage strong feelings and impulses and look for healthy ways to express those emotions. Incorporating humor into the way we perceive the world around us can also stimulate better emotional health.
- Be aware of the impact of your stress on your employees. In times of increased uncertainty, the need for leaders to pay a great deal of attention to how they act and communicate is exacerbated. Communicate with your employees with clarity and direction and give them reasons to remain hopeful and optimistic.
By checking our indicator lights and keeping our “tanks” full, we can increase our mental, physical and emotional resiliency. Nobody wants to be towed to the junkyard!
We at AlignOrg Solutions wish our friends and associates a happy holiday season, with our highest hopes for a prosperous and successful new year.